Elevated temperature, but not decreased pH, impairs reproduction in a temperate fish

Fish reproductive success is linked to the ability of couples to mate and produce clutches that successfully hatch. Environmental stressors like high temperature and low pH can jeopardize this energetically costly process. In this study, exposure to high temperature and low pH was tested on a marine temperate species, Gobiusculus flavescens, to evaluate effects on reproductive performance. Breeding pairs were assigned to different temperatures (+ 0 °C, + 3 °C relative to in situ temperature) and pH levels (8.0, 7.6), in a cross-factorial design for a 3-month period. Reproduction activity, success, and paternal investment were measured throughout the exposure period. Results show reproduction is impaired by elevated temperature, while low pH had little impact. Breeding pairs under high temperature had 3% to 10% hatching success, up to 30% less eggs and eggs up to 20% smaller. Although paternal investment was not affected by tested parameters, males of breeding pairs exposed to elevated temperature had smaller gonadosomatic indexes, which might indicate a lack of investment in the reproductive process. Overall, results show that elevated temperature, expected more frequently in the near future, as a consequence of global warming, may impair key processes like reproduction in temperate fish, with potential consequences for fitness and population replenishment.

Lopes A. F., Faria A. M. & Dupont S., 2020. Elevated temperature, but not decreased pH, impairs reproduction in a temperate fish. Scientific Reports 10: 20805. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-77906-1. Article.

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